Blogging 2017

Two bars of soap and one pen.

So there is this (famous?) brand of soap that offers one pen as a freebie for every two bars of soap purchased. The pen is arguably the tipping point, and I would wager the sole contributor to the surge of sales of that particular brand of soap, which was probably the makers’ aim. And I happen to be one of the realest fans of that brand (meaning I was a regular buyer before this freebie was offered – I am that loyal. *self pat*).

But with all the hullabaloo, I recently brought the two bars of soap, thinking I could as well benefit by the pen because I would anyway buy the same thing again. The shopkeeper handed me the pen almost reluctantly (I wonder why – were the packs selling as singles so well?) and I walked back with a sense of achievement. I now had the (famous?) brand of pen in my hand, all for free.

Now it would not be prudent to go on a detailed description of how that pen is not actually free and just a part of the cumulative cost of the bar of soap and an excellent marketing technique. I am more focused on the pen itself. Of course I remember the brand, of course it was special! To those kids who grew up in the nineties (yeah the notorious 90s kids. I am assuming that term is going to stick until the 2090s come), the particular brand was one among the only few that were available.

Now, I am not *that old* actually. It was the zeroes (or whatever they call the first decade after the millennium) before I was actually allowed to use a pen in my school – there, that means I was still a kid when the Y2K began. That must shift the perspective a little, okay? But I digress. Coming back to the pen, it was the fine carbure pen, yes, the one with the pure milk white body and the blue pointed cap. That pen where you can see the remaining ink in the refill clearly through the translucent fluorescent blue body near the nib. The one that gave you unparalleled tension as you tried to finish just one more page with the ink almost over. They have not changed that design in years, I tell you.

From being one of the most sought after pens in the market at one time, it has become the pen that is being offered as a freebie for two bars of soap. This discussion is not about whether or not this current stature reduces its value in any way. In my mind it does not. But with the multitude of available choices that include the rolling ball tip, laser focus tip, never ending ink tip etc., it is true that the original laser tip pen has almost been drowned. It is barely keeping above the surface and still managing to find its place amongst its loyal fans.

As an almost laughable observation, would any of us have remembered any other ‘modern pen’ as clearly as we did this pen with merely the description of its shape? Are the variety of choices available really numbing us and confusing us as consumers? What happened to the mere simplicity of using a pen that just wrote instead of performing a three ball juggle and a face painting act to entertain us? Was it not enough that we wrote assignments and put signatures with pens? No matter how varied or expensive our pen palette is, what are we going to do with it besides writing and probably scribbling?

Too many choices have reduced our interest and necessity to follow habits. Too many choices have successfully bamboozled us into thinking that we do not really need to be afraid if our favorite brand is not available. A new brand is just waiting to become a favorite. But is there a thrill of feeling special because we have earned it? I would say not. While I am not against the availability of choices, this post is just a ramble about too many choices actually spoiling our sense as consumers?

Coming back to the particular pen in hand, what happened to it?

This is nostalgia week, for those who do not know. The week I spent with overgrown kids born in the eighties and nineties who would go gaga over things like this. The pen has currently disappeared from my hand (unsurprisingly) and has gone into my cousins’ hand where they are all scribbling away with it as if they have found some treasure (and as if this product was not available at all in the market). Now I understood why the makers of the soap chose this particular brand of pen to give as a freebie. If it could get this reception from a group of twenty plus and thirty plus-year-olds, imagine the marketing genius behind it.

Now my main question is, do I take a video of all the CEOs and Team Leaders going complete bonkers over a pen? This is taking ‘nostalgia week’ a bit too far, honestly! The guys who are comfortable with their Parkers and Vectors are overdoing it. The video might turn out useful. Hmmm.


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